PORTLAND, Ore. —IBM anointed eight innovators as its newest Fellows on Wednesday, May 4. The honorees included the principal investigator behind Watson, the supercomputer that recently beat human champions at Jeopardy.
IBM bestows the honor of Fellow on its most prolific innovators in a practice started by Thomas J. Watson himself in 1962 as a way to encourage creativity. Of the 231 individuals who have been named Fellows since the program’s inception, 71 are active IBM employees. Past honorees include pioneers in such technologies as reduced instruction set computing (RISC), thin-film recording heads, DRAM, relational databases, the trackpoint, virtual memory, the scanning tunneling microscope (STM), Fortran and the AT bus on the original IBM personal computer. Fellows are typically given greater responsibilities in their area of expertise and are granted virtual carte blanche for choosing specific projects.
"Our work is grounded in the belief that teams of dedicated women and men, applying intelligence, science and technology, can tackle the biggest problems and make the world literally work better," said Samuel Palmisano, IBM’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. "These new Fellows will be instrumental in how we shape the future."
David Ferrucci was recognized for his machine question-answering technology, DeepQA, which he developed with a team of 20 researchers and software engineers. The technology, which provided the architecture for Watson, melds natural language processing with smart information retrieval, knowledge representation, machine reasoning and learning. DeepQA is being adapted for a variety of applications, including expert medical and financial consulting, retailing and government-mandate management.
"Given that the design of intelligent systems has been my passion for decades, it is especially wonderful to be recognized in the year my work on Watson had such a great impact on the company and on the world," Ferrucci said.
IBM's David Ferrucci.
The other new IBM Fellows are:
• Bob Blainey, honored for his work on hardware/software synergy, whereby software exploits existing hardware, and for spurring the development of better hardware for the next generation of software. Blainey's holistic approach to software optimization and collaborative processor design has led to innovations in compilers, Java and parallel systems.
• Bradford Brooks, recognized for his work on materials designed to meet communities’ toxicology standards through the application of sophisticated algorithms for environmental risk management and industrial chemical security.
• Nagui Halim, honored for his pioneering work in stream computing, starting with his team's entry into the Grand Challenge sponsored by the U.S. National Security Agency. Halim’s System S design virtually originated the fundamental architectural features of modern stream computing.
• Steve Hunter, recognized for his work in network-optimized computing system technologies and standards, including contributions to grid computing, cloud computing, virtualization, System x and BladeCenter.
• Stefan Pappe, who earned Fellow status for his work in cloud services, specifically for his method-based frameworks for productized service assets.
• Renato Recio, honored for his work on large virtualized data centers. Recio’s innovations have resulted in 97 patents issued and 80 patents pending.
• Wolfgang Roesner, recognized for the development of methodologies and verification tools that are now used by all IBM processors, as well as game processors like the Cell and the SoC processor Prism. Roesner's book Comprehensive Functional Verification: The Complete Industry Cycle is essential reading for verification designers worldwide.